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[181] the passage of the forts. This, as subsequently developed, was to be done in the following manner: the sloops of war and the gunboats were each formed in two divisions and, selecting the darkest hour of the night, between 3 and 4 A. M. of the 24th, moved up the river in two columns. The commanders of the forts had vainly endeavored to have the river lighted up in anticipation of an attack by the fleet.

In the meantime, while the fleet moved up the river, there was kept up from the mortars a steady bombardment on the forts, and these opened a fire on the columns of ships and gunboats which, from the failure to send down the fire rafts to light up the river, was less effective than it otherwise would have been. The straight, deep channel enabled the vessels to move at their greatest speed, and thus the forts were passed.

Brigadier General J. K. Duncan, commanding the coast defenses, says in his report of the passing of Forts Jackson and St. Philip by the enemy's fleet:

The enemy evidently anticipated a strong demonstration to be made against him with fire-barges. Finding, upon his approach, however, that no such demonstration was made, and that the only resistance offered to his passage was the anticipated fire of the forts—the broken and scattered raft being no obstacle— I am satisfied that he was suddenly inspired, for the first time, to run the gantlet at all hazards, although not a part of his original design. Be that as it may, a rapid rush was made by him in columns of twos in echelon, so as not to interfere with each other's broadsides. The mortar-fire was furiously increased upon Fort Jackson, and, in dashing by, each of the vessels delivered broadside after broadside, of shot, shell, grape, canister, and spherical case, to drive the men from our guns.

Both the officers and men stood up manfully under this galling and fearful hail, and the batteries of both forts were promptly opened at their longest range, with shot, shell, hot-shot, and a little grape, and most gallantly and rapidly fought, until the enemy succeeded in getting above and beyond our range. The absence of light on the river, together with the smoke of the guns, made the obscurity so dense that scarcely a vessel was visible, and, in consequence, the gunners were obliged to govern their firing entirely by the flashes of the enemy's guns. I am fully satisfied that the enemy's dash was successful mainly owing to the cover of darkness, as a frigate and several gunboats were forced to retire as day was breaking. Similar results had attended every previous attempt made by the enemy to pass or to reconnoiter when we had sufficient light to fire with accuracy and effect.

The vessels which passed the fort anchored at the quarantine station about six miles above, and in the forenoon proceeded up the river. Batteries had been constructed where the interior line of defense touched both the right and the left bank of the river. The high stage of the river gave to its surface an elevation above that of the natural bank; a continuous levee to protect the land from inundation existed on both sides

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